Common Causes of Back Pain

Dr. Gil Center for Back, Neck, and Chronic Pain Relief

 

If you’re experiencing back pain, you might think that you simply injured your back or that it comes from sitting too much. These could be the causes, but back pain can have many different causes, including diseases.

Nonetheless, serious health conditions are rarely the cause of back pain. These causes can include tumors, cancer, inflammatory arthritis and others. But you will find the most common reasons that you’re experiencing back pain on the list below.

Come to our office to see a chiropractor in Franklin and we can determine the cause of your back pain and figure out the right method to treat it.

 

Common Back Problems

Herniated or Degenerative Discs

Herniated discs can cause back pain. This involves the nucleus of the disc coming out of the outer part of the disc. The discs help absorb shock from the spine, so a problem with the disc can make you feel pain, in addition to other sensations like tingling or numbness. When you have a disc problem, it can also affect the arms or legs depending on its location. Since the disc changes over time, you have more of a risk of this from 30 to 50 years old.

Another problem that can happen to the discs is Degenerative Disc Disease, or DDD. As the name suggests, the discs start to break down over time with this condition. The collagen in the disc becomes weaker. There is less water in the disc and molecules that attract water decrease. Because of this deterioration, the disc can get to a point where it is unstable and unable to deal with stress. All of this happens before this condition is discovered radiographically. This condition is fairly common and it tends to happen with aging. Nonetheless, it does not usually get to a severe level.

 

Sprains, Strains, Dislocations and Fractures

Back pain commonly occurs because of sprains and strains. These generally cause pain when you’re being active and you feel better when you’re resting. You might develop a sprain or strain because you overworked your back, it wasn’t conditioned enough for an activity you engaged in, an injury or not using proper body mechanics. The problem area is considered a sprain when it happens in a ligament and a strain when it happens in a muscle or a tendon. Sprains and strains can be treated through rest and therapeutic exercise.

If you experience a dislocation, your joint becomes separated so that your bones do not touch or align like they should. When this happens, it affects the spine, which becomes unstable and cannot protect the nerves or the spinal cord.

Another potential cause of pain is a fracture. Fractures can happen to any bone in the body. While you might think a fracture is only caused by an injury, it could instead by a pathological fracture, which happen because of health conditions like osteoporosis, cancer or malignancies. Visit our office so a chiropractor in Franklin can help you determine if you have a fracture and its cause.

If the spinal vertebrae are fractured, it can cause a compression fracture. This can happen because of a fall, a car accident or another injury. It can also happen because a condition like osteoporosis or cancer weakened the bone. Compression fractures can cause severe back pain. While the pain will be in one location of the back, you might experience sensations like tingling or numbness in the arms or legs if the fracture occurred in a certain area of the back and compressed nerves or the spinal cord. It’s also possible to have numerous compression fractures at once, which can cause the person to hump forward. Compression fractures can even disable the person since the spine is supporting the body and holding it up.

To determine whether you have a compression fracture, you would receive spinal X-rays and potentially other tests like blood tests or a bone scan. These tests can help us figure out how the compression fracture was caused, which will facilitate treatment.

 

Trauma

Of course, trauma can cause back pain. Trauma is an injury to the spine; it might have affected your bones, your neurological structures and/or your soft tissues. Spinal trauma can cause the vertebral column to be unstable and it can also cause neurological problems.

An unstable spine usually happens because part of the vertebrae is injured or fractured. It can also happen because soft tissues are affected. Trauma can cause dislocations and fractures to both happen at the same time. This can make the spinal column very unstable because of numerous problems. These problems can then cause a neurological injury because they affect the nerves.

If the spine is unstable, it can cause numerous problems. The back will no longer be able to handle holding up the body and this problem can ultimately lead to conditions like serious pain, a lasting deformity or serious neurological injuries. Creating stability for the spine can help to prevent these problems from occurring or worsening.

 

Health Conditions Affecting the Back

Stenosis

Spinal stenosis and foraminal stenosis are also potential causes of pain in the spine. Spinal stenosis generally comes with pain, as well as other symptoms like weakness and tingling. It can be caused by a degeneration, injury or other causes. If it becomes severe, the person can become disabled after a loss of body function. This condition involves the spinal canal getting smaller, which then compresses the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis usually happens to people over the age of 50.

With foraminal stenosis, you are likely to experience sensations like burning, tingling or numbness. It happens because the intervertebral foramen, which are openings on the spine for nerves to pass through, are not as large as they should be. This can compress the nerve passing through. Degeneration, injury and other causes can lead to foraminal stenosis, and if it becomes severe, it can cause a loss of body functions.

 

Facet Syndrome

Facet syndrome can cause pain, in addition to inflammation and stiffness, because of problems concerning the posterior joints. This syndrome is caused by increased stress at the joints, which stretches the ligamentous capsule, causes joint friction and breaks down cartilage. You will usually feel pain and other symptoms only in the spine, although some people also feel these symptoms in other areas.

 

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis in another condition that can cause back pain. This condition occurs because of nutrient deficiencies that cause the bone density to reduce. Because of the weakened bones, compression fractures can result, which is very common with this condition. When this condition progresses, people can develop compression fractures by simple movements and activities like bending over or a small fall.

 

Sciatica

While sciatica is characterized by pain going down the legs, it is associated with the back. It can cause constant pain or pain once in a while. This condition involves the sciatic nerve, which goes from the back to the legs, becoming inflamed. Generally, this pain happens because the nerve is pinched in the lower back region, although it can also occur because of prostate cancer. It has additional potential causes like a structural imbalance; some of the causes are benign and easy to solve, while others are more serious. Because of this, the first step in treating sciatica is determining the cause of it. Once we know the cause, we can come up with treatment options.

There are some measures you can take from home to help sciatica pain. You can try stretching and the tennis ball exercise, which might help the piriformis muscle to relax. You see, the piriformis muscle can have trigger points that strangle and contract the sciatic nerve. You can also try to fix any structural imbalances you might have. For instance, try correcting your posture and practicing balancing exercises like yoga postures. If these solutions at home do not help your sciatica pain, you might need to visit an orthopedic doctor or a chiropractor to find a solution.

 

Fibromyalgia

To determine if you have the health condition known as fibromyalgia, a number of tender points will be pressed on your body. If pressing these points causes you to feel pain and possibly discomfort, this can show that you have fibromyalgia.

This is a chronic condition that causes pain and tenderness in the soft tissues of the body; it can also cause fatigue. Fibromyalgia feels different than muscle aches and other pain. It can be so severe that it can inhibit your ability to be productive at home and work. Unfortunately, we do not yet know the cause of this condition, although some treatment options are available.

 

Discitis

Discitis is an infection that occurs in the disc space and also results in the disc having an inflammatory lesion. This condition generally happens to children, although adults can also develop it. Its main symptom is severe back pain. Children with this condition do not usually have other problems like a high temperature or high white blood cell counts. They usually have an extended spine; some children refuse to flex the spine and walk, although many children can walk while experiencing pain.

The cause of this condition is not generally agreed upon, although one popular theory is that it is infectious. The thought is that a continguous end plate becomes infected, which spreads to the disc.

Tests can show some factors in this condition. A bone scan is generally not conclusive because it can have a false negative in relation to this condition; however, it can help to locate a lesion. Lateral radiographs can show narrowing of the disc space and the breaking down of the end plates in the spine. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate is generally high and MRIs can help discover the infection in the disc space.

 

Obesity

Obesity can cause many health problems and one of them is back pain. The spine holds up the body, including the body’s weight. Being obese puts a lot of extra weight and pressure on the spine. The spine distributes weight and pressure from activities, and the extra weight makes that distribution much more difficult on the spine. The extra weight can cause structural problems to the spine, in addition to damage. For instance, it might cause problems like sciatica or a vertebrae injury.

Obesity, or even being overweight but not to the point of obesity, can contribute to numerous health conditions that have back pain associated with them. This includes degnerative disc disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis.

Obesity often causes problems in the lower back, although it can also cause problems elsewhere. This is not only because of the extra weight, but also because of not enough exercise. Without proper exercise and conditioning of the body, the muscles in the legs, the back and the pelvis become weak. You can also have a lack of flexibility. These problems can make the pelvis tilt forward and the lower back curve abnormally. In addition, your posture is likely to be poor, which can affect many areas like the neck.

You might think that some of these back problems are happening because you are getting older. Of course, this might be one of the causes. Nonetheless, you are very likely to experience back pain directly related to obesity.

 

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis you are most likely to develop. This condition is also known as degenerative joint disease, or DJD. What happens is that the joint loses elasticity and the cartilage becomes brittle or stiff because of changes in the cartilaginous joint surfaces. This process makes it likely that the joint will suffer injury.

You can experience pain, in addition to stiffness and crepitation. If the condition becomes more severe, the bone can be damaged as well. This condition can happen in just about any joint, but it is more likely to occur in certain ones, like the spine, the hips, the knees and the fingers.

 

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition that involves a vertebrae moving out of place by going forward from the other vertebrae. As you might imagine, this causes problems with stability. This condition has many different potential causes, which can include disc degeneration, or vertebrae trauma or defects. If this condition becomes advanced, it can lead to compression of the nerves or the spinal cord. Sometimes, these advanced cases need surgery to fix the problem.

 

Lordosis

Lordosis happens when the spine curves inward. Normally, the spine should curve so that the head falls over the pelvis. The spine works to absorb shock and distribute weight and stress during everyday movements. But with lordosis, the spine’s normal curves are thrown off in numerous positions, including the lumbar, cervical and thoracic regions.

You can develop lordosis at any age. It can be caused by numerous conditions that cause the spine’s structure to be off, including discitis, obesity, spondylolisthesis and kyphosis. This condition generally causes problems with the lumbar spine, but it can also affect the neck. When it affects the lumbar spine, or lower back, you would experience an exaggerated posture with your buttocks sticking out.

 

Kyphosis

With kyphosis, the spine bends forward, creating a hump formation. Normally, the spine should round by the chest and arch by the neck and the lower back. But with kyphosis, this normal curvature is thrown off so that the rounding in the chest area is exaggerated and humped.

Usually, kyphosis occurs because of improper posture. However, it can also happen because of spinal surgery, a vertebrae fracture, osteoporosis, nerve disorders, spinal tumors or because of certain diseases like Pott’s disease or Scheuermann’s disease. This condition does not usually come with severe symptoms, although it can if the case is advanced. In advanced cases, you can experience tight hamstrings and thigh muscles, in addition to back pain and sometimes nerve problems.

 

Scoliosis

With scoliosis, the spine is not in its correct position. Instead of going forward or backward when it shouldn’t, it is thrown off sideways with this condition. However, the term scoliosis is considered a desriptor instead of a diagnosis and the side to side definition is considered traditional. It can also happen back to front or top to bottom.

Scoliosis can have many causes, such as neurological disorders, genetics or abnormalities in the spinal column. However, usually the cause of scoliosis is not known. In this case, it is considered idiopathic, which means that the cause has not been determined. This is usually the case when scoliosis happens to adolescent females. What we do know is that this condition is not caused by engaging in sports or other physical activities, improper posture or from carrying heavy items.

Although the cause of scoliosis is often not known, there are many ways the condition can be managed. Nonetheless, treatment can still be complex despite increased knowledge and treatment innovations for the condition. A treatment plan is usually developed by a team including the person, his or her family members, a surgeon and other healthcare professionals. In general, screening and determining that scoliosis is the problem early is helpful. Then, it is important to watch for changes utilizing knowledge on interventions and changes to look for. Then, surgery or other treatment methods might be warranted.

 

Radiculopathy

Lumbar radiculopathy is the term used to explain pain that you experience in your lower extremities like the legs. It happens in a dermatomal pattern; a dermatome is a location in the lower extremities that becomes innervated by a nerve in the back. This process compresses the nerves in the lower back, causing pain. It can be difficult to diagnose leg pain because it can actually start in the back, so it requires a full examination and history.

 

Ligamentous Hypertrophy

All along the spinal column, you will find spinal ligaments. This includes the posterior longitudinal ligament, which goes all along the back of the vertebrae, and the ligamentum flavum, which goes under the posterior bone ring. When these ligaments become hypertrophied, these ligaments can become larger so that they take space from the canal.

This can sometimes lead to compression of the nerves or the spinal cord. If both the posterior longitudinal ligament and the ligamentum flavum ligament hypertrophy, they can surround the spinal cord and compress it. In addition, when the ligamentum flavum is hypertrophied by the facet joint, it can lead to other problems like narrowing of spinal openings called foramen, as well as pinched nerves.

 

Associated Pain

Back pain in Pregnancy

Back pain is not always caused by something wrong in the body. It can also be caused by the pressure from pregnancy. Although it can be normal during this time, it is still something you want to address and take seriously. After all, it can greatly affect your lifestyle and your work life. It can also make delivery harder when the time comes. If it’s not treated, the back pain might even continue after your delivery.

You might wonder how you can take care of back pain during pregnancy, when special precautions need to be taken with your body. Well, for starters, you should not accept back pain as something you have to deal with, even though it is common. You should address the back pain right away to make your entire pregnancy better and to have a better delivery. This should be on an ongoing basis throughout your pregnancy, especially since your back’s burden will increase as the baby grows.

If you experience low back pain for weeks or even months during your pregnancy, there is a high chance that you will continue to experience it after you give birth. Because of this, it’s important to look for treatment during pregnancy instead of waiting. In addition, if you have back pain after birth for more than six weeks, you need treatment so you can prevent ongoing back pain or other problems.

 

Cancer

While cancer is not the usual cause of back pain, it still is a potential cause. You might wonder if this is the cause if you are experiencing severe pain, especially if you’re finding it difficult to discover another cause for the pain. The reason that cancer causes back pain is because of tumors that are found in the spinal column. Since they are abnormally taking up space, they can cause the bone to expand or weaken, which can cause pain itself. This process can also cause worse problems that can result in more pain, such as nerve compression, fractures in the spine or an unstable spine.

 

Determine the Cause of Your Back Pain

If you are experiencing any of these conditions, or if you are unaware of the cause of your back pain, make an appointment to have an evaluation. Our chiropractor in Franklin can provide an evaluation and tests to help determine the cause of your back pain and to come up with an appropriate treatment plan that fits your needs. Call to make an appointment today!

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